Sometimes the outcome of a day is determined by who wants it more. On Wednesday night, the Indians just wanted it more. How else do you describe a one run victory that could have just as easily been a one run defeat, if not for the hustle and effort of both Lonnie Chisenhall and Drew Stubbs.
Trailing by a score of 3-2 entering the top of the ninth inning, the Indians looked for anything to ignite a spark. They got just that when Michael Brantley walked to lead off the inning and then Jason Giambi doubled to put the tying and go ahead runs in scoring position. After intentionally walking Carlos Santana, Chisenhall stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and none out.
The much maligned Chisenhall was looking for a way to drive in the runs the Indians so desperately needed. He didn’t hit the ball far and he certainly didn’t hit it deep, but Chisenhall did what he needed to do. On a grounder to second that looked like a for sure double play, Chisenhall busted his butt down the line to beat out the J.J. Hardy‘s throw. The hustle was huge. The tying run score on the fielder’s choice, but more importantly, the go ahead run was now 90 feet away with only one out as opposed to two outs.
Drew Stubbs stepped to the plate with any number of options available to get the go ahead run home. Rather than try to be tricky or out think themselves, Terry Francona allowed Stubbs to swing away. He hit a sharp grounder to third for what looked like the inning ending 5-4-3 double play. Instead, Stubbs also busted his butt down the line to beat the throw, preserving the inning, and allowing Mike Aviles to score the go ahead run.
Meanwhile, Tribe starter Scott Kazmir was outstanding. He threw 7.0 innings allowing only 1 run on 1 hit and a walk while striking out 4. He also didn’t allow his first base runner until the fifth inning or his first hit until the seventh. Unfortunately, he was unable to get the win thanks to two runs allowed by Joe Smith in the eighth. More importantly, Kazmir was forced to leave the game before the start of the eighth inning and after throwing only 78 pitches thanks largely to back spasms. It doesn’t appear to be serious, but is something to keep an eye on.
Smith ended up taking the win while Vinnie Pestano earned his fifth save of the season.
The Indians scored their first two runs of the game when Jason Kipnis connected for his eleventh home run of the season. It was a two run shot to left center in the top of the fourth to score the newly activated Asdrubal Cabrera. It put the Tribe up 2-0.
As for the Orioles, they score their first run of the game off of Kazmir when Chris Davis hit a sacrifice fly to left field in the bottom of the seventh. They scored their second and third runs an inning later when Nick Markakis hit into an RBI fielder’s choice and Manny Machado singled to score Chris Dickerson.
The Good: Scott Kazmir was great – Seven innings and one run allowed. He has definitely made his case for staying in the rotation. Too bad he couldn’t pick up the win. Also, Jason Kipnis continues to be red-hot at the plate and the hustle by both Lonnie Chisenhall and Drew Stubbs on plays where guys typically don’t hustle was great to see.
The Bad: Joe Smith coughed up another lead, a shame considering how well Kazmir pitched. Other than that and a few o-fors at the plate this was a relatively clean game by the Indians. The Orioles are a good team so it’s hard to find much to complain about in a win.